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A photoluminescence peak from the Si δ-doped InAlAs barrier layers (δ peak) is found around the InAlAs exciton peak from the buffer layer in 15 modulation-doped InAlAs/InGaAs heterostructure field-effect transistor (HFET) structure wafers. The δ peak position ordinarily shifts to shorter wavelength with increasing δ doping concentration. The intensity reduction of the δ peak due to raising the temperature from 6 K is considerably slower than that of the InAlAs exciton peak. The excitation spectrum of the δ peak is clearly different from that of the InAlAs exciton peak and seems to reflect the optical absorption dominated by the potential slope in the upper side of the barrier layer and the quasi-Fermi level. The δ peak is not detected from HFET structures without the contact layers. The δ peak is attributed to the recombination of electrons from the δ-doped layer and photogenerated holes weakly confined in the upper side of the barrier layer. © 2001 American Institute of Physics.